Bookshelf: The Twilight Zone #18

The Twilight Zone #18
First Published November 1966
Published by Gold Key/K.K. Publications, Inc.

Gold Key’s comic book based on The Twilight Zone ran for 91 issues from November 1962 to June 1979. It was never published monthly, often coming out every other month or every few months. During 1966 a subscription cost 65 cents a year in the United States, 90 cents for Canadians and $1.15 for all others. This particular issue includes eight stories plus a black-and-white story on the inner front cover (the outer front cover has advertisements). The main story, which runs 11 pages, is called “Second-Hand Clothes.”

In it, a poor beggar finds a $20 bill. He buys three used suits with the money at a used clothing store. The clerk tells him he’d be surprised who used to own them. He walks out wearing one of the suits and is stopped on the sidewalk by a man in a fancy car who calls him Mr. Fairchild. Deciding to go with the flow, the beggar gets in the car and pretends to be Mr. Fairchild. Before long, he begins acting like Fairchild, mercilessly firing an elderly employee before being attacked by an angry man. The suit is torn and he tries on another. The same servants who embraced him as Mr. Fairchild now throw him out as an enemy of their employer.

The Twilight Zone #18 Cover
The Twilight Zone #18 Cover – Copyright 1966 Gold Key/K.K. Publications, Inc.

The beggar soon learns he is Nick Bruno, criminal extraordinaire. He is nearly killed when a rival gang attacks but he escapes and puts on the last suit. The store where he bought the clothes is gone, now a deli, and the clerk insists he doesn’t know the beggar. He looks at the label on the suit and it takes him to the Plaza Men’s Shop. The next day, he shows up there and is warmly greeted as Mr. Fuller. Fuller has been missing for seven months; Fuller’s father is thrilled to see his son again. The beggar decides to become Mr. Fuller, feeling that he really is the man.

Serling closes the story: “A wanderer, a man without a name, puts on second-hand identities when he wears second-hand suits! Can he remain bob Fuller or when he takes off that suit will he once more be a stranger in the twilight zone?”

The next story is titled “When the Lights Go Out!” and runs four pages. Supposedly based on a true story that took place in August of 1959, a strange glowing object flies over the Minas Gerais District of Brazil. As it does, the power goes out. Then it returns suddenly. Later, on April 18th, 1962 in Nevada, a blip on the radar. In Utah, the Air Force scrambles its jets. An explosion takes place in Eureka, Utah and the power goes out again. Could all these mysterious power failures be the work of a UFO? What about the massive failure that occurred in the Northeastern part of the united States in the fall of 1965? Was that a UFO?

The next two stories are one page each. In “The Dead Man’s Train,” the engineer of a train is found dead. The doctor insists he has been dead for a half hour. But the train obeyed every signal. Who was at the controls! In “The Man in the Green Coat,” the prime minister of England has a nightmare in 1812 in which he is attacked by an assassin in a green coat with gold buttons. He insists on going to work and is later killed by a man in a green coat with gold buttons.

“Programmed Vacation” runs six pages. Mr. Bentlow, owner of Bentlow Computers, Inc. decides to have his house completely automated because he hates people. His entire vacation has been programmed into a punch card. Things start out fine, with his dinner brought to him in bed via a conveyor belt and a book handed to him by a robotic arm. Later that night, things go terribly wrong. Food is brought to him, a book hits him in the head, a toothbrush is jammed into his mouth, a straight razor nearly takes off his head. When he tries to destroy things they are fixed. He can’t get out of the building. Two weeks later, the programmed vacation over, Mr. Bentlow finally escapes and is overjoyed to see other people.

The Twilight Zone #18 Page
The Twilight Zone #18 Page – Copyright 1966 Gold Key/K.K. Publications, Inc.

The second to last story, “The Impressionist,” runs seven pages. Jackie Allen, famous impersonator, is confronted by the ghosts of those he impersonates. Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Clark Cable, Humphrey Bogart. It is time for Jackie Allen to be himself. But he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. He’s afraid of the audience, afraid of people and doesn’t want to be himself. But he is forced to live life as himself forever in The Twilight Zone.

The final story is another one pager, “Strange Reunion,” in which an elderly woman on a passenger vessel nears death. She cries out for her son, who ran off to Australia fifteen years ago. The doctor decides to ask a random sailor to pretend to be her lost son. The jokes on him, however, when the sailor turns out to actually be the son in question. The woman recovers and the two share twenty years together.

The black and white one page story on the inner front cover is called “The Mysterious Gambler” and includes no dialogue, only captions. John Robertson discovers a way to control dice with the power of his mind. A mentalist is eventually hired to use his own mental prowess to defeat Robertson. It works and Robertson never gambles again. In addition to these stories, there is also a one page short story called “The Green Children,” about the Green Children of Woolpit. In the story, however, the children were discovered in August of 1877 near a Spanish village rather than in England during the 1100s. Two children are found, colored green, speaking a strange language. The boy soon dies. The girl, however, learns Spanish, loses her color and explains that the two came from “a land without sun, where it was always twilight.”

As the scan at the start of this post indicates my copy of this issue has severe damage along the top of the front and back covers. The color has been torn away and bits of the paper stuck to the first page. The damage on the back cover is even worse. But aside from some minor water damage to the interior, the inside pages are in fine shape.

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One Reply to “Bookshelf: The Twilight Zone #18”

  1. I’ve had the opportunity to read several of Gold Key’s “TWILIGHT ZONE” comic books, and some of them are quite good! And Rod’s caricatures, obviously traced from publicity photos, are pretty accurate. The two main stories, “Second-Hand Clothes” and “The Impressionist”, are intriguing (although the first sounds like a variation of Charles Beaumont’s “Dead Man’s Shoes”, from season three). The cover illustration of “the beggar” looks a lot like Tom Neal from 1945’s B-movie film noir, “Detour”. The ending is quite touching…but you can bet “Bob Fuller” is going to keep his suit on for as long as he can!

    “Programmed Vacation” is interesting, but from the way you describe it, it lacks a “punchline”. The most obvious one is where someone recognizes him on the street and says, “Gee, Bentlow, you look terrible! You ought to take a vacation…” PLOP! goes Bentlow as he faints on the sidewalk. “Ronald Bentlow- the man who just took a vacation…and who also discovered, somewhat belatedly, that rest and relaxation requires more than just numbers and holes on a punch card. Next time YOU plan to get away from it all, be sure to check your brains as well as your baggage at the gate, before entering- The Twilight Zone”.

    The one-page story, “The Mysterious Gambler”, sounds like it was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” and Beaumont’s “TWILIGHT ZONE” episode “The Prime Mover”.

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